“True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life.”
— Aadil Palkhivala
Through the years we have been consuming our way through life; buying whatever we can. Many a time, an item finds a way in our cart just because of being cheap in price or being on discount, whether or not we need it. The last few years have been eye-opening in terms of our wastage as well as our consumption habits. A conscious lifestyle has become more than just another buzzword. Though this crisis has been rising on an upward spiral, the global pandemic forced us to rethink our choices and strategize ways in which we can reverse the damage and create a positive social impact through acts of conscious consumerism. Everything we buy or throw away has health, environmental and social impact, something that we’ve overlooked in the past years. Being conscious not only changes our life but also everything around us and our impact on this world.
However, with a rise in conscious consumption and minimalism, sustainable shopping could be our chance to support the protection of the planet.
A step toward being Earth-friendly
“It is not living that matters, but living rightly.”
When we think about conscious living, conscious shopping and conscious consumerism become one of the first necessary steps because of the impact that they carry. A sustainable label is not enough. We need to be aware of the things around us, things we use and see on daily basis, and things we are bringing home.
“Conscious shopping” is a way to reduce the effects of fast designs and fast production. Rather than buying an item off impulse, we take our time and assess the style, quality, and how many wears we will be able to get out of it. “Less is more” we all have heard it. Setting our minds on the why, how and quality of our purchase has become significant. Purchasing higher quality products allows us to save money in the long run and reduce the amount of waste we produce.
“Conscious consumerism begins with shopping less and shopping only for what’s needed. Also known as ethical consumerism or conscientious consumerism, this type of shopping focuses on making a positive social, environmental or economic impact. “
Conscious consumerism must operate in tandem with a social justice framework that dives deep into hard issues, engages relationally with the interconnected world, and keeps ourselves and society-at-large accountable for our actions.
Shifting to a circular economy
We need to understand and accept that conscious living is more than the latest trend. We would have to make responsible efforts before our actions. If we are purchasing something [which we need], we must focus on the circular lifecycle of products. What does the product’s lifecycle look like? What happens after we don’t want it anymore? Where does it go? How does it affect our surroundings and other organisms?
The sustainable home decor industry is one with a closed loop economy — one that’s self-sustaining and where resources are continuously reused. The current industry operates in a linear economy, where resources are taken and waste is generated. Thanks to plastic, though cheap, it is affecting the earth - land, air, oceans, and animals in the worst possible manner. The raw materials used in the products we purchase thus become quite consequential.
It’s good for us to start thinking about what the lifecycle of a product looks like. Will we care for it and own it for a while? Is it made well enough to last for multiple owners? Can it be broken down organically and can be reused?
With the introduction of materials like bamboo, there is a solution to the afterlife of a product. Bamboo based home decor is revolutionizing the furniture and lighting industry. Bamboo being grass is compostable and thus leaves zero waste behind. They are generally made by hand, by the artisans who have been doing the same for centuries. This not only generates employment but also gives us sustainable products which do not harm the environment in any manner. Buying bamboo lighting and furniture is a conscious decision that can benefit everyone around.
Cheap Is Rarely Fair
Although it can be tempting to purchase from online brands that boast attractive discounts, we must consider how they can sell their goods at such low prices. Generally, these bargain brands exploit their employees with dangerous working conditions and disgracefully low wages, thus being successful in keeping the prices of the products low and offering big discounts.
Exploitative employment practices often impact women, youth, and marginalized communities who already face discrimination in society. Conscious consumerism is about making ethical decisions that benefit not only yourself but the world at large. Therefore, while it can be difficult to say goodbye to cheap factory brands, your conscience will thank you for it.
Conscious living means living a life of purpose. Conscious living involves making intentional decisions about our choices, about our lifestyle. Nature — the plants and animals around us, the planet Earth, the atmosphere, the universe — are all things larger than us. We must act in a way that protects and conserves nature. Each time we stop to buy something, we need to take a pause and think of the spiral of consequences that it will have on us, our surroundings, this earth, on future generations. Buying less, buying right, and buying sustainable should be our default mode. Acting ethically is now not only the right thing to do but the most profitable angle for long-term growth. We are the most important person in the world and the most insignificant. Every step, every action of ours counts.